How About That Economy?

With all the noise after the election, it’s been a while since we checked in on the state of the economy. There’s a reason for that. Will the election results change what has been a slow but steady march to a strong economy? Will 2017 still be the year when we look around and realize that everything has changed?

It seems that, so far, it’s all still marching along. There is a good chance that jobs and general growth will indeed strengthen, making Trump look like a genius. Last Friday’s employment situation survey showed that it is still moving forward – and combined with a strong holiday season there is at least some reason to cheer as a dreary 2016 starts to fade into what promises to be a crazy 2017.

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No Credit / Bad Credit

A lot is going on in my life.  I’ll explain later.  Meanwhile, this post from a year ago is becoming more important all the time.

If you’re like most people, you probably think that you can never have too much access to credit. After all, you never know what might go horribly wrong or when an opportunity to really follow your dream might come up. A little scratch ready in the background might be the difference between the good life and something much less.

Then again, a lot of credit has a corrosive effect. In a world saturated with borrowing everything is judged against the expected return if the money was simply loaned out at market rates. It seems reasonable that where a little credit is a good thing a lot of credit, defining everything in the world, is the biggest enemy of both long-term thinking and a society looking to maximize happiness and human potential.

Logic says that where a little credit is good a lot could be bad, meaning there is an optimal point. Where is that? Where are we with respect to a good level of credit? It turns out that train left the station a very long time ago – and this may explain a lot of the problems in this economy.

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2016 Holiday Shopping Forecast

It’s time for the Barataria annual Holiday Shopping Report! As we’ve done every year, the best information from those who analyze and predict the season ahead is put into one place. It’s a bit later than usual this year due to severe bizziness on my part, but it’s coming in ahead of the dreaded Black Friday.

Ready for a huge Christmas buying season? So are most retailers. But there are some important caveats.

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GDP Catches Up

GDP is 1%. That’s terrible. Our country is dying at 1% GDP.

Donald Trump, Third Debate

One of the great things about debating political points today is that anyone who actually knows what’s going on has no idea where to start. Trump was referring to the real (inflation adjusted) growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was lagging at the start of the year. But with a new number for the third quarter of 2016 showing a net 3.2% growth you have to wonder – What is this guy talking about?

The short version is that it bounces around all over the place. The long answer takes a lot of graphs. Welcome to Barataria, land of the long answer. Prepare for some hand waving.

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Oil Finds a Range

One critical issue is absent in this election year. Well, actually all critical issues are absent, but that’s another point. This time around absolutely no one is talking about one thing that has dominated US politics since the early 1970s – the price of oil. Gasoline is cheap and everyone is happy.

Everyone, that is, except the oil and gas industry. The crash in oil prices in 2014 has confounded the business of drilling, baby, drilling and left oil prices if anything too low – a concern if your job is to make the bubblin’ crude come out of the ground.

It’s been a mystery since the crash just where oil prices will finally land. Today, however, most experts finally agree – we are probably right now in the range that oil will stay at for at least the next year, if not beyond. That’s great for the US, but terrible for other oil producing nations.

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Twitter Must Die! (and it will)

Twitter is dying. Or perhaps it is already dead, it’s hard to say. The stock has rallied lately, anticipating a buyout by …. someone. Google just said they aren’t interested, and who can blame them? The company has never been profitable and has never found its niche.

It is still handy if you want to know what Trump is thinking around 3AM, if you are into that kind of thing. CNN still relies on twitter for feeds from ordinary people for some reason. But for all of this, there was never anything resembling an actual revenue model and never any attempt to find a way to organize the firehose of information that blasts at you once you reach a certain number of users.

I have no use for it, and I don’t know anyone who does. Will it go away?

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The Final Countdown

This is a critical week in the Presidential election. No, that’s not because of the Vice Presidential debate, which will start right after this is posted. You can decide for your self just how important it is and then revise your estimate downward a week later. Don’t worry, we live in a time of negative interest rates so there is indeed a lower standard of importance than whatever you are thinking.

No, this is the week for the final jobs report. Not the last one before the election – that comes out the Friday before. That will be too close to the election to really sink in, so this is the last one that we can be sure will count. Will it be good and favor Obama III: The coming of Hillary? Or will it be a disaster and herald the arrival of, well, a much worse disaster named Trump?

Bet on a solid 180k gain that will seem decent enough to be called a win. But you never know with these reports. Here’s why.

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